Outputting 5.1 sound from mkv’s via optical to an A/V receiver

I'm still yet to master the black art of outputing 5.1 sound from mkvs in Media Center to my A/V Receiver. At least now I've recorded how I got it working this time.
July 20 2011

It seems every time I install shark007 codecs, clean or upgrade, for my windows 7 x64 media centre, I run into problems where my A/V receiver does not receive 5.1 sound from my PC.  Sometimes I get this problem seemingly randomly.

My setup is I’m outputting via  X-Fi PCI-e card’s optical output into my Phillips A/V Receiver.   I spent $1600 on my mid level deck so I figure it’s going to have a better processor than my $50 sound card bought only to get optical out.

My latest problem came when some mkv’s played extremely slowly so I downloaded and installed the latest shark007 codecs (2.9.2 at the time).  Then began the usual hours spent getting my receiver to show it was was receiving 5.1 sound from every appropriate source within Media Centre, my player of choice thanks to the fabulous Media Browser.

My latest problem was that 5.1 sound would come through correctly in Windows Media Player but not when playing mkv’s in Media Centre. (One would expect that both being Microsoft products, both would work!) I could not resolve my latest issue using the usual techniques.

After some playing around I got my sound to work with the following settings:

1. Select use pass-through (Digital Audio) in FFDshow S/PDIF pass-through



2. Use FFDShow’s codec for all three options on the left side of the SWAP tab

3. Disable Microsoft’s Audio Decoder.




Pretty straight forward.  I usually also pipe my sound through AC3Filter and set its audio to pass-through too. My results vary and it seemed I’d have different settings on each different configuration run to get the same results.  Getting MKV to work is still a black art to me, but at least now I’ve recorded a working example, rather than relying on my memory each time I need to configure my sound.

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